Reps grapple with gun issue

MANCHESTER - After the tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Conn. on Friday, attention has been directed towards how to prevent something like this from happening again.

It's a question that may come before the state Legislature as well, when it convenes for a new session on Jan. 9.

"Like just about every American I know, I was utterly stunned and heartbroken by the events in Newtown. The shootings were so horrific, they seem beyond comprehension," said State Representative Jeff Wilson (D-Manchester-Arlington).

Wilson said that it is more likely the Federal government will take action before state restrictions start to occur.

"I might be wrong on this, but my sense is that State officials will probably look to see what, if any, action the Federal government will take, before embarking on state restrictions," he said. "At this early stage, it appears that Congress may very well consider re-instituting the assault weapons ban, prohibiting high capacity magazines and closing the so-called 'gun show loophole'."

What is the "gun show loophole? According to the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, The Gun Control Act of 1968 requires anyone engaged in the business of selling guns to have a Federal Firearms License (FFL) and keep a record of their sales. However, this law does not cover all gun sellers. If a supplier is selling from his or her private collection and the principal objective is not to make a profit, the seller is not "engaged in the business" and is not required to have a license. Because they are unlicensed, these sellers are not required to keep records of sales and are not required to perform background checks on potential buyers, even those prohibited from purchasing guns by the Gun Control Act. The gun show loophole refers to the fact that prohibited purchasers can avoid required background checks by seeking out these unlicensed sellers at gun shows.

"I have not heard of any suggestions from State legislators thus far about changing Vermont gun laws," said Wilson. "But, then again we aren't in session yet, so that type of discussion might not happen until January."

Patti Komline, the state representative from Dorset, had similar feelings towards the topic and said that she would support a change in legislation.

"Do we really need these assault type weapons? Can we change the clip size of guns? I think we should be doing something as a state. Whether any action will get done, I don't know," she said. "It all depends on traction. Yes, I think there are going to be bills out there I am waiting to get more information. I would support a bill to make certain changes."

Komline talked about how violent video games might play a role on issues such as gun violence.

According to G4TV, a television network geared primarily toward young adult male viewers based on the world o video games, their list of the top 100 video games has violent video games at the top. Franchises such as Call of Duty, Modern Warefare, and Grand Theft Auto all create an atmosphere in the game of killing, and in the case of Grand Theft Auto, breaking the law in any way possible.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution gives all Americans the right to bear arms, which the Supreme Court has interpreted to mean that all citizens, not just a "regulated militia" allows citizens to own guns including assault weapons. A previous restriction on private ownership of military-style assault weapons was allowed to lapse by Congress in 2004.

Komline said her point is that we do not need assault weapons, at least in the general population, and that it a only creates a danger to us all.

"I am fine with hunters owning rifles and things of that nature, but assault weapons and concealed hand guns? I just don't see why people need them," Komline said.


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